Sunday, January 6, 2008

France's President is Going to the Chapel

Who would plan a first year in office like this? A bruising close election against Segolene Royal, inaugurated as president, Celia Sarkozy wife of eleven years as France's First Lady collects Bulgarian medic hostages from Libya, bitterly divorces wife, riots in the streets of Paris and petrol strikes, Moamer Qaddafi descends upon the French with a Bedouin tent to make a splashy head dictator visit, off to meet the Pope - model/songstress girlfriend gets a no Holy See, and now, announce he's going to marry his gal pal. Will she make an honest man of him?

France will have had two different first lady's inside of a year. The first marriage was said to be, um, rather combative with three children under the age of twelve. The French president, considered conservative, is playing by his own political rules as he takes Carla Bruni with him on his official trips. Christmas was spent amongst the ancient pyramids of Egypt, home to ancient civilization's first twisted mangled messes of mixing the political with affairs of the heart. Carla is not Cleopatra though.

An elegant brunette and heiress to a tyre fortune, with a reputation as a "man-eater," the former supermodel had a surprise hit with the release of her first pop album "Quelqu'un M'a Dit" (Someone Told Me) in 2004.

Bruni's mother Marisa Tedeschi Bruni -- who accompanied Sarkozy on a trip to the Vatican last month -- has been quoted in the Italian press saying the president had asked for her daughter's hand, and that she had gladly agreed.

While polls initially suggested a majority of voters saw Sarkozy's romance as a strictly private affair, there were growing signs the paparazzi fuelled coverage of his love life could be harming his confidence rating.

"The intense media coverage of the president's private life, touching on the image of the presidential function, appears to bother (his) traditional supporters," Rozes told Le Parisien.

Petra, Jordan is the latest presidential stop for the two lovers. February seems to be the month that his fiancée will become the new/latest/final? Mrs. Nicholas Sarkozy. President Sarkozy will become a stepfather to her young son, Aurelien Enthoven. Protocol offices around the world are wringing their hands at how to handle Carla when she visits as it creates quite a headache because of her lack of official something or other, but she sleeps in the bedroom with a head of state. Believe it or not, the blithe French are scandalized.

Invited by King Abdullah II to spend the weekend at his palace in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, Mr Sarkozy and the singer were flown to Jordan by royal jet.

The couple's appearance in Egypt, giggling and whispering as they took in the tourist sites trailed by a swarm of paparazzi, provoked criticism in France that the President

was turning his private life into a circus. His latest romantic getaway to Jordan looked likely to trigger a similar reaction.

Indian authorities are struggling to find the right protocol should Ms Bruni accompany Mr Sarkozy on his first official trip to New Delhi later this month. In a country of conservative sexual mores, India's Foreign Ministry is reported to be in confusion after Paris said the President's girlfriend might accompany him, as she is not his spouse.

Gallic shrugs have given way to anger. The president seems to have a measure more hubris than even the French can tolerate. Viciously, but oh so salaciously for the tabloids, his rival, former prime minister Dominique de Villepin, has called him Tom Cruise for the diminutive hieight of the president, the style of Top Gun aviator shades he prefers and the dilettante movie star lifestyle. The added subtle insult to Sarkozy was to compare him to a crass American.It just adds to the drama that though they were both rulers of France at two different times, Napoleon famously has the ownership title for short men trying to overcompensate. That would be to grand to compare him to a self-anointed Emperor. Reading Paris Match ought to be hilarious in the coming months. No one does trashy tabloid tarring and feathering quite like the Europeans. (Getty photo from Jordan)

Republic day is a big day for India and Sarkozy must not have understood the cultural reaction when Richard Gere went a peck-on-the-cheek-too-far with a Bollywood star on stage. A French president, with no seeming interest in world opinion, is thumbing his nose at traditional values. He was the conservative guy in the presidential race and seems to have morphed overnight. No worries, Americans know what its like to vote for compassionate conservatism and get totally incompetent.

The book the French are avidly reading filled with flaming vitriol is Des Hommes d'Etat (Men of State), but Dominique de Villepin proves he knows His French history with all of Napoleon's contributions in Les Cent-Jours: ou l'espirit de sacrifice.

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